How Much Does it Cost to Reload 223 Ammo for Your AR-15? How Much Can You Save?

The most popular ammo to reload has been the .223 Remington or the 5.56mm NATO (M193) bullet, thanks to the AR-15. Without getting into the politics of it all, the popularity of an AR-15 shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The AR platform is lightweight (6-8 lbs), durable, accurate to at least 225 yards for a point target, and is easy to customize with the addition of a Picatinny or Weaver rail system. 

The biggest concern for AR owners is the constant increase in the cost of ammo. A lot of calibers have gone back down in price after the initial closure of the company. However, AR-15 ammo seems like it’s on the rise and not coming down anytime soon. 

I’ve figured out that reloading my own ammo is the only way that I’m able to afford my AR-15 ammo in the current economy. For example, right now it costs on average between $45-$70 for 50 rounds of good .223 Remington ammo.

Let this blog guide you on how to get started learning to reload your .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO ammo. You can expect savings as high as $500 if you shoot 1,000 rounds per trip to the range. If we’re all being honest with each other, nobody goes out to the range with an AR not to shoot a lot of rounds. 

Frankford Arsenal M-Press Single-Stage Coaxial Reloading Press

$195.44
at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Is There a Difference Between .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO Ammo?

The first thing we need to do is acknowledge there are major differences between the 2 calibers. The bullet capacity is larger in the .223 Remington than it is in the XM193. Second, the M193 is a more powerful bullet with velocity and force of impact than the .223 Remington. 

We all love guns on this blog, otherwise, I’d be out of a job. Some of us live by guns for our safety, sustenance, and/or profession. You need to take into consideration the dangers of loading the wrong ammunition in a rifle. 

The bullet chamber in an AR-15 (.223 Remington) is shorter than the bullet chamber in the M4, M16, or M249. This means that you can over-pressurize the barrel of a .223 Remington with an M193 bullet. 

In short, you can fire a .223 Remington Bullet inside a 5.56 Barrel, but you can’t fire a 5.56 bullet inside a .223 Remington barrel. The pressure is too high for a .223  Remington barrel to handle the force of a 5.56 M193 bullet.

Kel-Tec RDB 20" AR

$1,228.99
at Guns.com
Prices accurate at time of writing

The reason the 5.56mm bullet has more pressure is the military uses the 62-grain bullet Full Metal Jacket Boat-Tail for added stopping power. You’ll need a higher pressure to push a heavier bullet with more velocity, better accuracy over range (boat-tail), and more force upon impact. 

The Boat-Tail design will reduce the drag on the bullet during flight to produce a flat bullet trajectory that produces better accuracy for rifle-caliber bullets. Although rounds meant for semi-auto rifles can be crimped, I’ve been told by our experts that 99% of rifle rounds are not crimped. Furthermore, BT ammo can be cannelured, but most of the rounds are not. As far as reloading goes, BT ammo is much easier to reload than a flat-base case because the beveled base of the boat-tail acts as a guide for alignment during seating. 

.223 Remington & 5.56 NATO Specs

.223 Remington

5.56 NATO (M193)

Case Type

Rimless, Bottleneck

Rimless, Bottleneck (Tapered)

Bullet Diameter

.224" (5.7mm)

.224" (5.7mm)

Land Diameter

.219" (5.6mm)

.219" (5.6mm)

Neck Diameter

.253" (6.4mm)

.253" (6.4mm)

Shoulder Diameter

.354" (9.0mm)

.354" (9.0mm)

Base Diameter

.376" (9.6mm)

.376" (9.6mm)

Rim Diameter

.378" (9.6mm)

.378" (9.6mm)

Rim Thickness

.045" (1.1mm)

.045" (1.1mm)

Case Length

1.76" (44.7mm)

1.76" (45mm)

Overall Length

2.26"

2.26"

Case Capacity

28.8 grain

28.5 grain

Rifling Twist

1:12"

1:7 or 1:9

Primer Type

Small Rifle

Small Rifle

Max Pressure

55,000 PSI

60,000-62,000 PSI

Bullet Velocity of 55 Gr Bullet

3,240 ft/s

3,260 ft/s

Load Data for 223 / 5.56

223 Remington and 5.56 ammunition are almost identical in many cases, but there can be a slight difference between the two when it comes to loading data. Most reloading guides suggest different loads for .223 and XM193. For example, Hornady uses 3 categories (223 Rem, 223 Rem for Service Rifle, and 5.56 NATO). As far as the reloading data for this blog, we will focus only on reloading .223 Remington. 

Frankford Arsenal Case Prep Center

$189.99
at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

 Load Data For Hornady 55 Gr V-Max

 

 

 

 

Starting Load

 

 

Max Loads

 

 

Primer

Manufacturer 

Power

Bullet Diameter

C.O.L.

Grains

Vel (Ft/S)

Pressure

Grains

Vel (Ft/S)

Pressure

SM. Rifle

Hodgdon Accurate

2015

0.224"

2.260"

20.3

2,735

49,300 PSI

22.5

3,025

54,800 PSI

SM. Rifle

Hodgdon Accurate

2460

0.224"

2.260"

21.8

2,914

49,500 PSI

24.2

3,185

55,000 PSI

SM. Rifle

Hodgdon Accurate

2495

0.224"

2.230"

22.5

2,832

47,800 PSI

25.0

3,111

53,100 PSI

SM. Rifle

Hornady V-MAX Box of 100 bullets

$23.26
at Gritr Sports
Prices accurate at time of writing

Best Gunpowder for .223 Remington?

The Accurate 2015 from Hodgen has to be my favorite powder to use on an AR-15 for primarily 2 reasons. First, the Accurate 2015 works with 30 Gr bullets (Winchester Bar VG) and is as large as the 90 Gr Winchester Sierra HPBT. Second, the powder burns incredibly fast with better consistency for more accurate shots. 

Do you want to learn more about reloading data? Get a good intro into how it’s done with our Hands-On Beginner’s Guide to Reloading. 

Where Can I Find 2015 Accurate 2015 Gunpowder?

The unfortunate thing right now is the lack of supply right now across the country. Many stores have told me they haven’t seen shipments in months. The top places will allow you to give your email and they’ll send an email alert to your email. 

Many people think this is not worth it, but I literally search for ammo, guns, and tactical gear all day long. Those email alerts are sent out the second the item is scanned into inventory. Each company will get a few bottles of powder each month, if you’re quick you can get yours without waiting a year. 

  1. Sportsman’s Warehouse-$35.99 (1 LB)
  2. Natchez Shooting Supplies- $271.99 (8 LB)
  3. Kentucky Gun Company
  4. Gritr Sports
  5. Local Gun Shows

What Do I Need to Load .223 Remington Ammo?

  1. Ammo Boxes/Reloading Trays-$4.95
  2. Rotary Tumbler 7L- $188.31
  3. Brass Cleaning Media-$25.49
  4. Brass Cleaning Solution-$16.15
  5. Single-Stage Reloading Press-$195.44
  6. Intellidropper Electronic Powder Measurer-$201.13
  7. Perfect Seat Hand Primer-$38.77
  8. Calipers-$27.99
  9. Universal Bullet Seating Die-$65.99
  10. Case Trim & Prep Center-$189.95
  11. Case Prep Expansion Tools-$36.99

How Much Does it Cost to Reload .223 Remington Ammo?

Right now, you could get all the tools you need to reload every rifle caliber you have for under $1,000 if you shop on Amazon. If you buy from Frankford Arsenal, you could get the best reloading kit for universal reloading for only $991.16. If you bought an extra bullet die for handgun caliber bullets, you’d have everything you need to reload both rifles and handguns.

If $991.16 sounds like a lot of money, remember that it would cost half of that for 1,000 rounds and you get no return on the ammo. However, if you bought the kit on Amazon, you’d save well over $100 in shipping and pay for the kit in 3-4 reloads. I know most of the other components are hard to find, but I always look for components and buy them once they hit the online inventory. 

Alliant Reloader 10x Rifle Powder 5 lbs

$194.49
at Natchez Shooting Supplies
Prices accurate at time of writing

Why Should I Reload My Own .223 Ammo?

I know I talk a lot about saving money, but there are many other reasons to buy a reloading kit and start learning how to produce your own ammo. Reloading my own ammo has given me a much better understanding of ballistics and the impact customized bullets have on my accuracy. Even with 4 years as Military Police with 2 tours in OIF, I still learned a lot. 

Not only will you learn so much more about the impact bullets can make, but you’ll be able to train more because of the money saved from reloading. Being in this industry, I sit here at Shot Show and meet some of the best shooters in the world. One thing I always ask professional shooters, is what can I do to get better? The most common answer I get is I need to ensure that I’m putting in enough time training if I want to be more proficient. 

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Reloading Stand

$143.19
at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

I don’t know if safety is talked about enough when it comes to commercial ammo versus hand-loaded ammo. Commercial ammo is produced to work with as many factory guns for each specific caliber. For example, Federal 9mm ammo is meant to work great in a Glock 43X, Walther PPS M2, and a Ruger SR9 with reliable and consistent results. However, every one of those 9mm pistols is made with different components and constructed differently.

It’s fair to assume that one bullet can’t be optimized in every pistol you have. One of the biggest lessons I learned is changing the depth of a bullet by 1mm can make a huge difference in accuracy at different ranges. You can only make these customized changes with hand-loaded ammo. 

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Table of Contents

  • Is There a Difference Between .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO Ammo?
  • Load Data for 223 / 5.56
  •  Load Data For Hornady 55 Gr V-Max
  • Best Gunpowder for .223 Remington?
  • Where Can I Find 2015 Accurate 2015 Gunpowder?
  • What Do I Need to Load .223 Remington Ammo?
  • How Much Does it Cost to Reload .223 Remington Ammo?
  • Why Should I Reload My Own .223 Ammo?

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